ABS' Christopher J. Wiernicki Delivers USMMA Commencement Address

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Published Jun 22, 2020 10:26 PM by The Maritime Executive

“Remember that deeds not words will get the ships through.”

That was the message from Christopher J. Wiernicki, ABS Chairman, President and CEO as the Distinguished Industry Speaker for 210 graduating cadets at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy’s first semi-virtual graduation ceremony, which was closed to the public but livestreamed.

“I realize this is not the graduation ceremony any of you pictured in your minds, but nothing, not even a global pandemic, can change what you have accomplished,” Wiernicki told the Class of 2020. “Cherish today and remember this feeling because there will be no more classes, no more textbooks for reference, or professors to help. Everything from this day forward is an elective built on your personal experience.”

Speaking from the heart about leadership, he explained this is rooted in experience and that all Kings Point alumni will answer the call to leadership during their careers because of their education, training, preparation and commitment to service to the nation.

“I have seen that everyone can and should be a leader, and quite frankly, all of you will be leaders in different capacities and in different ways over the course of your lives. Resilient leadership withstands difficult conditions and you will lead as you continue to bounce back in strong ways.

“Four leadership principles that apply no matter the time, generation or circumstance focus on treating everyone with human dignity and respect as the cornerstone because it is the Golden Rule of leadership; guarding your character because you trade on integrity every day; embracing change and making uncertainty your friend; and valuing relationships because culture is more important than results.”

He illustrated the point with a powerful story about his father’s life journey through World War II and ultimately to a new life in the United States.

“Everyone can be a leader at any point in their life, and no matter how awful the situation in which you find yourself or how wobbly the wheels get on the cart, never give up and remember that quiet, resilient leadership is effective. “Success in life and leadership go hand-in-hand,” Wiernicki added.

Graduates also heard from U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao as well as U.S. Maritime Administrator Rear Admiral Mark Buzby, also a USMMA graduate. 

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